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When it comes to Transformers, I am a lifelong fan. I loved them when I was a kid, the 1986 film remains one of my favourites of all time, I had an annual from the mid-1980s that I read religiously, I watched both recent blockbuster films at the cinema (and loved them!) and have now successfully turned my son into a Transformers fan for life. One of my friends even gave me the complete original cartoon series as a wedding present (apologies to the wife!).
However, I haven't really read any Transformers comics apart from the annual I was given. This one is Volume 1 of a new series of comic books, set way after the Transformers first came to Earth. I judge the timeline by the humans involved. The Witwicky family are the link here, as 'Sparkplug' Witwicky was the original human who joined with them, along with his son Spike. In this comic, Spike is now the adult, with his son Daniel getting a mention early on. (As a side note, Daniel is the main human featured in the 1986 cartoon movie - still as a kid).
The Transformers attempted to return to their hime planet of Cybertron, in a ship called the Ark II, but it crashed/exploded, taking with it the lives of the humans aboard (including Sparkplug) and seeming to have done the same to the Transformers. The evil Decepticons and good Autobots would fight no more on our soil.
That is, until the beginning of this comic book, where the revelation that the Transformers never left, but were merely shut down as a result of Ark II being derstroyed. Someone has reactivated Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, in the vain belief he can control the building sized robot and any others. When this goes wrong, Spike is sought out to reignite the most courageous Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, in a bid to rid the Earth of the Decepticons once and for all.
What I found intriguing about this wasn't really that it brought anything new to the table, nor was it that the artwork was particularly impressive. I mean, Transformers will always take on the same appearance in the traditional sense, with fans being able to recognise recurring characters with ease, not being surprised by storylines or by results. Ultimately, the Decepticons will always do something bad, the Autobots will always put their lives on the line to stop them, and the world will do nothing but get angry with all of them and assume they're all bad.
No, this wasn't anything special on these fronts. But what it did do is bring a whole new set of morals into the equation. It was almost as if there had been enough of a gap in proceedings to need the inclusion of some sort of bolstering, with the voiceover of Optimus Prime printed to give us the reasons the Autobots respect the human race, and why we are 'stronger' in spirit if not in body. Doing the right thing is written all over this 160 page issue, and with strong and vibrant colours in the artwork, it sort of rams it home in a way that fans and newcomers alike can appreciate.
It gives a little history lesson throughout, allowing those not having experienced the series before can get a grasp of what is going on. For the fans, there are clever little frames here and there where a transformation is taking place in the background, or a particularly significant Transformer is included without actually being named. Chris Sarracini does well to include a story that can involve and appeal to anyone.
Contrary to a lot of comcic book publications, the published art team here features a long list, as opposed to the usual one or two man credit, and this sort of reflects, for me, the teamwork the Autobots and humans also show throughout the story. It involves everyone working together, an no doubt this labour of love to get the Transformers into a new 'Generation' series of comics was a big team effort, too.
I found this incredibly easy to read, and very hard to put down. There is a nice balance between detailed artwork and minimalistic visuals, as well as fluctuation between long and descriptive writing in some frames and then patches of frames where no dialogue is used, letting the visuals do the storytelling. It is a nice balance, and a story I highly recommend. It's currently available from amazon.co.uk for just over £10, which is a decent price, the RRP coming in at just above this. Recommended.